Coping at Christmas: putting on my ‘happy face’.

‘Tis the season to be jolly, right?

Unless you’re anything like me. You see I really hate Christmas, but what I hate more than Christmas, is the build up to Christmas.

Every year it seems that the celebrations start earlier and earlier. I actively try to forget that it’s an annual thing, until that one annoyingly cheerful person on social media reminds me that there are only 8 Fridays until Christmas or shares some glitter filled meme about how it’s the most wonderful time of the year.

Spreading joy aye? For most I guess that’s true. For me though the dreaded C word fills me with anxiety. The realisation that Christmas is around the corner makes me panic, worry & wish it were all over. I don’t enjoy being such a grinch though and I vaguely remember a time I loved this time of the year, but those memories are few and far between and fading fast. The reality is, people who suffer with a mental illness cannot just turn on the cheer and fit comfortably in the celebrations. As much as they wish they could.

That’s why I wanted to write about this because I have often received harsh criticism for my dislike of Christmas and I tend to lie these days and pretend I feel the same as (seemingly) everyone else. It’s not easy to explain my dislike, especially to strangers or associates. So here it is, a few reasons why I hate Christmas.

So. Many. People.

My first reason is a practical one. I cannot stand the Christmas rush. Im 5’1 so naturally I get swallowed up in big crowds. Add to this the fact I’m claustrophobic and suffer with anxiety.. well, it’s just a recipe for disaster and luckily these days I can get away with doing my shopping on the internet. Alone. In peace. Away from people. Except at Christmas time, even the local corner store has more bodies in it than usual. It’s just too peopley out there at this time of year.

Money, money, money!

Everything costs money. There have been occasions where this hasn’t been an issue, but not because I’ve been able to afford it rather I’ve been hypomanic and careless with my cash confusing this with Christmas cheer and goodwill. Either way I end up paying the price. Struggling to afford Christmas just sucks the fun of it and I’m sure a lot of parents can relate. Every time my sons mention something new for their gift list I die inside. Another thing I have to buy that I can’t afford right now. Sigh.

Broken family. 

Cant afford Christmas, fear not! For the warmth and love of your family will make up for that surely. For a lot of my friends Christmas is a time for family. Good food, drinks, Board games, traditions and get togethers. But what about the broken families? The strained relationships, the Christmas dinner for one? For some, Christmas is just a cruel reminder that these super happy scenarios only belong in Christmas films.

And I sense it. I know that my hatred for festivities is blaringly obvious and I know that it’s hard for people to understand. I try my hardest to put on my happy face because I have to, for my kids. But it isn’t easy for those who suffer poor mental health. There isn’t a switch we can flick, and sometimes not even fancy lights and festive tunes can cure our blues.

Trust me if that were the case I would advocate for Christmas every day. I guess what I’m trying to say is, if you’re team Christmas please don’t be too hard on the people who don’t enjoy this season as much as you. Don’t call them a grinch. Try and be patient with your miserable loved ones this year, because they have made it to December and that is a gift in itself, especially for those suffering suicidal thoughts. Just be grateful they are there beside you to see the new year in. Happiness is a pursuit when you’re suffering with a mental illness,  happiness is a fight and the battle continues even at the most wonderful time of the year.

So, be kind this Christmas.

Love, Laura xo

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